U.S. airlines and their workers are in “survival mode” in their fight to compete against foreign airlines that do business with unfair economic advantages, warns the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) in a new white paper issued today.
“U.S. airline workers, whom I believe are the best in the world, welcome the opportunity to compete,” said Capt. Lee Moak, ALPA’s president, today on Capitol Hill. “You can take it from me that we will compete with unmatched determination and an all-out commitment to winning.”
ALPA released Leveling the Playing Field for U.S. Airlines and Their Employees 3.0: Survival Mode, in conjunction with the union’s 2nd Annual Legislative Summit, which this week drew more than 150 airline pilots from across the United States to Washington, D.C., to call on the U.S. government to restore a fair marketplace.
“Some foreign airlines do business with enormous amounts of state support. This is not fair competition,” explained Capt. Moak, who was joined at the briefing by pilots from the union’s mainline, all-cargo, and regional airline pilot groups. “Still others have concocted business schemes to skirt their national laws and gain unfair economic advantages in attracting international passengers. This is not playing by the rules.”
ALPA’s white paper lays out exactly why and how U.S. government leaders must act from an international, consumer, and one-level-of-safety-and-security perspective to ensure U.S. airlines have a fair opportunity in the marketplace. The policy framework makes 15 sets of recommendations about specific actions the U.S. government must take to level the playing field for U.S. airlines.
Among ALPA’s priority issues is the U.S. government’s need to scrutinize key existing and future Open Skies agreements to be certain they advance the value of high labor standards and safeguard U.S. airlines’ ability to compete.
“Since the United States first began its policy, the U.S. share of the international widebody fleet has dropped from 45 percent to 17 percent,” stated Capt. Moak. “That share is forecast to shrink to just 5 percent by 2025. This prediction should keep all of us in the U.S. airline industry awake at night.”
ALPA’s president also highlighted the union’s call for U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx to reject Norwegian Air International’s (NAI) scheme to cheat the system of international aviation policy to compete unfairly against U.S. airlines.
Earlier this month, the union launched the Save Our Skies campaign to mobilize the American public to support U.S. airline jobs by opposing actions that are harmful to the industry. More than 30,000 people have signed a petition calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to reject NAI’s foreign air carrier permit application. In addition, 115 bipartisan members of Congress have written to DOT expressing concern about the NAI application or calling for its outright rejection.
“Every U.S. airline flightcrew member, regardless of the type of aircraft they fly or whether they carry cargo or passengers, is in this fight,” concluded Capt. Moak. “We are in it for the long run, and we are in it to win a fair marketplace for U.S. airlines and their workers.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing more than 51,000 pilots at 32 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org or follow us on Twitter @WeAreALPA.